My conversation with Mark and Lance on Monday didn’t stay on the topic of sales. At some point in time Mark and Lance got in a debate about free will and the morality of God. I was pretty much content to just sit back and watch Mark tear Lance to shreds with logic, but then the conversation went here:
Mark: So what about all the people who lived during the time of Christ but never heard of him? Biblically speaking “faith comes through hearing”, but they never heard the Gospel. So why did God create them if they never had a chance of ending up anywhere but hell?
Lance: It is possible that through natural revelation they could come to an understanding of God, and they would have been judged based on what they know…
Mark: But that’s not the point of Romans 1. According Paul, natural revelation only condemns, it doesn’t save. Are you suggesting that people could be saved aside from the gospel?
Lance: Well…in a sense some of them might be, but I couldn’t say for sure. But we also have to take into account that God not only knows everything, but he knows all the possible outcomes of people’s free choices. For those who never heard the gospel and are yet condemned it’s not improbable to think that God foreknew that they would reject him even if they did hear it.
Mark: So billions of people were created, just to go to hell?
Lance: No, of course not. People freely choose to reject God even though nature has revealed he is true in their hearts.
Mark: But these people didn’t reject God, they never heard the gospel.
Lance: But an all knowing God would know that had they’d be given the chance, they still would have rejected him.
Mark: So they were created just to go to hell.
Lance: No, God didn’t create them to go to hell. They chose that on their own.
Me: Wait, wait, wait… but if God knew they were going to hell why did he create them at all? Is he not responsible for their eternal torment?
Lance: No, he’s not responsible. Just because he knew what people would freely choose doesn’t make him responsible for their choices. If we can imagine a timeline with the beginning of someone’s life being “A” and the end of someone’s life is “D”, just because God knows “D” doesn’t make him responsible for their free choices.
Me: But they don’t have a free will if their destiny has already been determined.
Lance: But God isn’t the one determining it.
Me: But he knows about it! And if my destiny is already fixed, it is known what I will do and will not do, then free will is an illusion. God already knows that I have no other path to go, so why create me at all? In this instance God is the only one with a truly free will and with full knowledge of my eternal damnation he chooses to create me and creates me for hell.
Lance: But God didn’t create hell for you. Who does the scriptures say hell was created for? The devil and his angels.
Mark: Yeah but when God created it, if he is all knowing, he knew that a majority of mankind would end up there. How is he not responsible for the eternal torture of hell?
Lance: I don’t see how he is responsible.
Now we’re tag teaming. This is hardly fair to poor Lance. Two trained pastors verses a layman, we aren’t picking on someone our own “size”.
Lance: So, you mean like I can see point “D” in his life?
Me: Exactly. You knew that somewhere between A and D your son, yet to be conceived, was going to kill millions of people.
Me: If you went ahead, and you and your wife create this child, are you not at least partly responsible for the deaths of millions of people?
Lance: No! I am not responsible for the free choices of other people. The blame rests on their shoulders not mine.
Me: But you and your wife were the only people who had the knowledge and real power to stop the slaughter of millions of people. How are you not somewhat responsible in that case?
Lance: Wait, are you an atheist too?
Me: Well…uh, uh…you know, I like to ask hard questions. I think it’s what makes me good at my job
Mark: Forget theoretical. Let’s talk reality. If God exists, and he created mankind, knowing ahead of time that man would sin, and through sin death would enter world, and war, and cancer, and starvation…and then a majority of those people end up in hell forever, how is he in any way good, moral, or just?
Lance: Because we don’t think like God does. There is perhaps a higher moral value that necessitates these things. Sin must be punished, evil must meet justice.
Me: How is an eternal hell just? Why does hell even need to exist at all?
Lance: Because justice requires the punishment of wrong doing.
Me: Ok, but why does that punishment have to be conscious eternal, as in forever, torment?
Lance: You have to prove that there is not a morally justifiable reason for God to do this.
Me: No, that’s not how proof works. You have to prove that there is a morally justifiable cause for doing something so obviously immoral.
Lance: But if God exists and he is a moral being based off his character, then there is obviously a moral cause that you perhaps haven’t seen.
Me: But there is no reason for Hell to exist. It didn’t have to be created. You could take an annihilationist view, like the Mormons or the JWs. Why couldn’t God just have these people cease to exist?
Lance: But we are eternal beings. So we don’t stop being eternal after death.
Me: Yes and no. You haven’t always existed. There was a time when you were not. Why couldn’t a damned person just cease to exist. That would certainly be more humane than an eternal hell.
I spend most of the rest of the argument trying to convert him not to atheism but annihilationism. Best to keep my cover that way.
Apparently Lance and Mark continued there conversation via text through the night. These kind of conversations make me want to work for Mark’s company. Still need more $ though.